UnBooks:The O. Henry Collection
Famous American short-story author O. Henry, renowned for his ridiculously stupid and twist endings, recently chose three of his favorite short-stories (not written by himself) which had endings similar to those of his own writing style. These types of endings are commonly known as "O. Henry Endings". All of this was accomplished despite the fact that O. Henry reportedly died in 1910.
This collection of short-stories is known as The O. Henry Collection.
"These stories, all which were written by unpopular writers, were chosen for their uniqueness, creativity, and similarities to my books," said Henry, "the story which is most like mine wins."
The stories are below in ascending order (meaning the #1 pick is at the bottom, and the #3 pick is next). They are not to be confused with "The O. Henry Awards", which O. Henry despises because he never got an O. Henry award, considering he is in fact, O. Henry.
The Fountain Of Lamneth
The Fountain of Lamneth was one of many William Byrd II's failed literature pieces. Although Byrd was a Virginia native, he was educated in Essex, England, and often visited the region. As fond as he was of Great Britain, he was often rejected by the British not because he was American, but because he tried too hard and was an enormous asshole.
This piece of historical literature happens to focus around the small village of Lamneth, which was renowned and much more exciting and much larger than Byrd portrays considering Byrd never actually visited Lamneth. Instead, he got lost and ended up in Barnt Green in Worcestershire (the self-acclaimed "World's Largest Village").
Lo! Might thee be curious in the tale of the cascade of enlightenment that comes from Lamneth, a parish which lies but 300 rods from Shropshire? There, ye might find unassuming yet meticulous persons, devoid and apathetic to the affairs of state. Ye might also find nothing more than that which graze the surfaces, or "the crest of the iceberg" as the hip brood say.
'Tis probable that ye might ascertain the copious quantity of knowledge and wisdom which the austerely oral structure of edification that is indigenous to Lamneth. Upon my own expedition to Lamneth, I accomplished just that.
The great sages, the "elders" of Lamneth, convened and met with my selected party and I without more ado, as we had found ourselves conversing with the village idiot rather than the elders, a frequent blunder.
The elders informed me of an incident in which several of the settlement's people accidentally drowned while attempting to fish for what they mistakenly believed were pike. The irrationality of this event is evident in the reality that pike aren't native to the region, and the fact that there isn't a fresh source of water for over twenty miles.
If thou were to venture to this unmapped expanse, thou wouldst discern the apparent under abundance of water in the region. Such has led me to suppose that due to the lack of fish and mammals willing to survive so far from a source of water, and the basic lack of water, that the average person of this declining community was both protein deficient and considerably dehydrated. This has become my only logical deduction regarding the extreme stupidity which is quite frankly more abundant than the water and fauna in the region.
However, underneath the mask of stupidity lies a foundation which itself is based upon a rigid system of knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment. Unfortunately, to the dismay of the rest of Lamneth's citizens, the elders feel that they come from a distinct bloodline, that which predisposes and entitles them to this knowledge, and predisposes the rest of the community to be morons.
While this immoral practice of purification seems prejudice, the seemingly infinite knowledge contained by the elders isn't entirely clandestine. In fact, travelers are free to educate themselves, though it may take more than a year's time to even begin to comprehend the complex knowledge which is so heavily sought after in this day and age.
This is what thou might refer to as "The Fountain of Lamneth". Unfortunately, many travelers, even when enticed with the rewards that the sages of Lamneth have to offer, refuse to spend more than a week in this hell-hole. In summation, this fountain is profoundly conked out. I am especially saddened when I tell you that Lamneth was destroyed in a tragic meteor shower caused by a gust of wind from King James II's arse after he got such a big arse from taxing northern Great Britain to hell to compensate for his small penis.
O. Henry's Comments
"Byrd did an excellent job of not only expressing his discontent with King James II, but screwing up the entire story. If I was a disliked asshole from the late 1600's - early 1700's, I might have written the same thing. But I wasn't, so I didn't."
Life of a Hobo
Life of a Hobo is a fictional, semi-serious comedy novel written by §ǚρωξλ£μĦ "§quiggle" Φφ≈€ƏξßÐÆØΞ about hobos, specifically, a man named John E. Hayes living in the streets of San Francisco, California, way back when in 2005.
While long in contrast to what might be deemed a "short story", it is worth noting that this version is relatively short, considering the original novel exceeds 7,000 pages. This is the more popular paraphrased version.
John E. Hayes was an insignificant man, living in an insignificant corner of the windswept yet insignificant city of San Francisco. He was one of 739,426 mostly insignificant people, skittering about doing their mostly insignificant jobs (or in John's case, not). Once in a while one of the 739,426 popped out another, making 739,427, or 739,428, or - dare we say - 739,429. Nothing much interesting happened. All that can be said of the place on a whole is that there were a ton of hippies there in the 60's and there's an impenetrable cake of smog hovering ominously over the entire area. The point, however, is that John lived there.
Then, one day, John died.
This story is not about that day.
Instead, this story is about the far more interesting (yet still very dull compared to, say, Homer's Odyssey) story of John's downward spiral into the gritty underbelly of hobo life, filled with booze, drugs, and blatant false advertisements. If you must know how John died, it was in a car crash decades later between a custom made limo and a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. But that's entirely irrelevant and has absolutely nothing to do with this story.
John was a stout man, the kind you'd call Porky and throw peas at during lunch. He would have gorgeous brown hair were it not futilely combed over a blatant bald spot on his head. He was good-natured, but generally unlikable; i.e., he's one of those guys who loves The Beatles (cool!), but his favorite Beatles song was Yellow Submarine (eh...).
John worked as a mail carrier. He was a good mail carrier, and took pride in his work, even when insensitive kids threw peas at him. He tried to be a friendly mailman, even when all he had to give was Junk Mail. But then, one day, the inevitable happened.
John was fired.
John walked in one day, about ten minutes late (rather pathetic, because his house was next door to the office), still chewing a Fig Newton bar messily and smoking a cigarette, when he saw his boss, Mr. Starkey.
"Hello, Mr. Starkey", John absently mumbled.
"John, are you mad?"
"Ah, yes. Sorry." John clumsily said, and waddled toward the door.
Before he made it, however, he slipped on a banana skin. It is unknown, and perhaps irrelevant, how the banana skin got there. Perhaps a co-worker ate a banana and missed the garbage; perhaps they put it there knowingly. Although this matter was of little significance, much like John's pitiable life, it was still a matter which John contemplated every night before he cried himself to bittersweet sleep. Nonetheless, the banana was conspicuously placed on the floor, and John had just slipped on it. It was quite hilarious.
At least, it was until his cigarette ignited the banana peel, lighting the building aflame within an instant. It is a little-known fact that banana peels are highly combustible. John learned it the hard way. By the end of the day, 3 people died, 17 were seriously wounded, and dozens were left without letters from their Grandmas. Also, John was fired, both the kind that means that your employment has been terminated and the kind where your balls char and shrivel to ashes.
John's home had burned down in the fire, as well as his cherished childhood baseball card collection, his faithful puppy, and his senile mother. All his money was kept in his mattress, because he had never heard of a "bank" and he didn't have much money anyway. He'd evidently never heard of "home insurance" either. Not that it matters though, since most home insurance doesn't cover self-inflicted arson, but I digress. And so, John was left to wander the streets.
One fact of life is that fat people do not do well in environments with little, or disgusting, food. These include, but are not limited to, deserts (not desserts, mind), The Congo, and the mud-trodden streets of San Fran. There is little food, and much less edible items. Although an army of Starbucks line the every street, taunting the homeless with empty promises of Caffeine, whipped cream, and Blueberry Muffins, and dozens more restaurants, there is little to eat.
John was new at this unkind game, and decided to do what first came to mind: Dumpster-diving. He'd seen it done before by a rag-wearing man while walking his loving, obedient dog, and twice before on a CNN special. He found an appropriate dumpster, about half full, readied himself for the dive, and jumped. Not gracefully, however, like a professional diver; more like a man playing tag with a young retarded child, who wants to let the child win, but adding the fact that the man is probably so obese that the child would win anyway. He found himself stepping on what he would have suspected to be a long piece of stale French bread, were it not for the sickening crunch he heard upon landing on it.
The torso of a scruffy looking man emerged with a start through a cereal box, shrieking a pained shriek that would make mighty Greek heroes of lore weep.
"My God! Sir, I'm terribly sorry!"
"Nah, it's all right."
"... Rea... Really?"
"Yeah, just help me pop this kneecap back in. And, if you have any alcohol, I'll take it."
John quickly searched his pockets for any alcohol, though he suspected he'd find none. All he found was a package of gum and some lint. He promptly ate both.
"So, you're new around here, aren't you?"
"Er... Well, yes, I suppose."
"Ah yes, "New Poor" they call it. It's a hard life to adjust to. I would know. My father was a distinguished and affluent pimp, my mother a prostitute who dealt cocaine part-time. It seemed for a while I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but look at me now. A shame to my father's good name. The name's Fred."
"Uh, yes, it's a pleasure. John Hayes."
"Hello, John. Now, I assume by the approximate size of your waist that you were scrounging for food in this dumpster, no?"
"Well... Yes, pathetically so."
"Of course," Fred continued, "It is common hobo etiquette to knock before entering a dumpster, and loud, because we're often sleeping, strung out on heroin, and/or dead. Also, dumpster diving is more of a recreational sporting event rather than a method for finding food."
"Yes, indeedy," Fred rambled on, "If you're hungry, or in desperate need of a buzz, you set up a sign and lay on the streets begging. Trust me, it works. San Francisco is probably the most hobo-friendly city the world over."
"Look, I'll just go..."
"Nah, it's fine. I don't bite, and I've had all my shots. Here, I'll show you the gang."
"You're in a gang?"
"Don't worry, it's a figure of speech. We're more harmless that Scooby-Doo's gang."
The next day, John happened upon a queer fellow with a clean suit, a straight tie, and a comb-over at the pub giving financial advice to some hapless fools, including Fred. His name tag read "Stanley".
"Now, the stock market is a fickle market, strewn about with baneful fellows who want only to steal your well-earned money and sleep with your wife", Stanley said, "that's why you have to invest in several companies at one time. If one company hits the fan, the others will hopefully remain sound. So to speak, one must not put all his eggs in one basket."
"Why eggs?" quipped one fellow on the floor.
"Eggs? Well, why not eggs?"
"Eggs don't expand like stocks do, but chickens will give many eggs."
"Look, it's only figurative speech. It really doesn't matter what it is."
"Then why can't it be a chicken?"
"I rather like chickens," another man added.
"Fine. Chickens. It doesn't matter one bit. The point is, one must not invest too much within a single business. It's called diversification."
"Yes, why not geese?"
"Or Dromaius novaehollandiae?"
"Fine!" Stanley bawled, "We've assembled a basket, crawling with all manner of bird. The point of the matter is, don't invest all of your money into one stock."
"One mere basket could not hold an emu."
"He's right, you know. A full-grown emu can grow to two metres, and one basket could not restrain one emu, let alone an emu and a multitude of other birds."
"Is a poppycock a bird?"
"It doesn't matter!", Stanley huffed.
"If your advice doesn't matter, then why should we pay attention to you?"
"Because apparently you can't make any decisions of your own, you're all complete dunderheads who can't grasp simple concepts, and you've worked yourself down into a depressing financial rut you can never work yourselves out of!"
There was a long silence, broken by Fred.
"I propose that we construct an Aviary, and fill it with birds from exotic lands."
"That sounds nice."
Stanley stormed out in disgust. John followed suit.
John had walked all the way across San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was uncannily cold, even for San Francisco standards, and a bitter wind nipped John's cheek in an unpleasant manner that tickled his nose and made him sneeze. He had always been afraid of heights, and usually avoided the bridge at all costs. However, today was a different day.
Today, John planned to kill himself.
He admired the foggy, bleak, and dirty-looking city view from the bridge, completely unobscured by any form of suicide barrier. He noted a sign reading "THERE IS HOPE - MAKE THE CALL". He scoffed to himself. Oh, yeah, like he could totally pull out his new Cingular flip phone and make a call to a suicide crisis hotline. He scoffed yet again, with yet more defiance than before.
He prepared to make the jump, inhaling the cool breeze. He found it would be quite difficult to jump, due to the fence. He made an awkward first attempt, but found himself merely sliding over the fence in an ungraceful manner, only to flop himself backwards after seeing how staggeringly high it was. He took a deep breath to recover, and observed that either no one saw him try to kill himself, or no one cared. This was pretty depressing, either way. He wondered why he couldn't just kill himself by jumping over a quaint stone bridge in the countryside, and miserably yet reasonably thought "gravity".
He steeled himself for a second jump, but was distracted by two things; first, he noticed a mid-size SUV and a black stretch limo riding by slowly, seeming to taunt him, and gave him a deeper and more sudden terror than he ever knew. He blinked, and they were gone. Also, Fred was there.
"Ello." Fred said, almost pitiably unobservant of what was happening.
"Go away," John snapped back.
"What the fucking hell does it look like I'm doing?!"
"Looks like you're trying to jump the bridge"
"Of course I'm trying to jump the bridge! Does it look like I'm inviting it for tea and a walk on the beach?!"
"Depends on language, dialect, and intent."
"Nevermind. Either way, I'm gonna say don't do it."
"Why the hell shouldn't I? My life sucks, I don't have a job, my house burned down with my mother and dog inside, I'm homeless, and, worst of all, my only friend is you."
"So why even bother to try and stop me?"
"Because it is quite painful."
John gave him a frustrated look. "I can quite well imagine it would, considering the drop!"
"Yes, but you don't die. I didn't. I jumped once."
"You were depressed too?"
"Oh, deary me no. And drunk as a Poet on payday, minus the paycheck."
"So why'd you jump?"
"I dropped a nickel, being chased by two cops."
"And you dived after it?"
"Yes. You see, I had previously stolen the nickel."
"...", John wittily replied, mouth agape.
"Yeah, as it turned out it was a world famous, record-breaking nine meter-by-nine meter replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel called the "Big Nickel"."
"You stole the Big Nickel?"
"Didn't float well. So it sank, and overnight they replaced it with a new one. No one knew any better. And I swam to shore, unharmed but very hurt in the torso and head region. Nonstop headache for days on end, projectile vomit, bloody diarrhea... the whole shebang. So, to reiterate, don't jump."
"This is beyond stupid."
John was interrupted when suddenly, mid-whine, the screech of sirens and several police cars pulled up. Fred prepared to take a running start on a head-first dive, but John caught him by the back of his flannel vest without so much as a glance back. The police got out of the car, acting as though they thought they were auditioning for a dramatic role on CSI:, and arrested Fred and John.
No one except for the cops talked for minutes later. Surprise, surprise, it was Fred.
"You did read us our Miranda Rights, right? Can't recall."
"Yes, of course." On of them said blankly.
"What are we being arrested for?"
"Really?" Fred piped in, "If what we have now are stolen identities, the ones we had before must have really sucked ass."
"Shut up." Said the first cop.
"No, seriously. We suck. Especially this stiff sitting next to me. We're so poor we can't afford a pot to piss in."
Trying his best to ignore Fred, John wondered, "How are we guilty of identity theft? Trust me, if I had knowingly done so I'd already own a mansion in France and... well, a pot to piss in."
The cops considered. "We're really not supposed to tell you, but OK. Just keep it hush-hush and whatnot."
"As it turns out, the chubby one," (the cop made a gentle wave of his donut in John's general direction), "Took a piece of paper with valuable credit card numbers."
"Me?" John asked as he pointed to himself.
As uninterested as the police were in John's inability to recall such an event, they subsequently had to release him due to a lack of evidence, his initial arrest having been based on a vague bet amongst several officers. Fred wouldn't be released, and would be brought up on separate charges from a previous incident not mentioned in this story.
Almost immediately after his release from police custody, John sought out the nearby homeless shelter. On his long walk to the shelter, a large crowd of people on the opposite sidewalk caught his attention. Out of curiosity, he made his way over to the crowd, almost being hit by an ambulance, a milk truck, a tank, and a Greek chariot while crossing the street.
Pushing his way through the crowd of spectators, he saw two bums of separate races fighting and a small group of people recording the event, one of them with a sandwich in his hand.
The bums fought savagely. The black bum swung a crowbar at the white bum, and the white bum deflected the blow with his face. The white bum then grabbed a full beer bottle, and whacked the black bum over the head with it, knocking him unconscious.
The film crew, along with all of the other spectators, applauded. The film crew then handed the winning white bum the sandwich. This entire scene disgusted John, and he charged in front of the crowd, taking the sandwich and raising it up into the air before giving a long speech:
"You all should be ashamed of yourselves! You all disgust me! How dare you make two people of limited means fight over food, something that you all take for granted! I know what it's like to be poor. None of you seem to have any clue."
With that, John took a bite of the sandwich.
He turned to the victorious bum for a reaction, and immediately noticed he had taken hold of the crowbar and had swung it.
John woke up several hours later, having taken several blows to the face with a crowbar. His eyes focused on the bright lights on the ceiling, and he immediately knew he was in the hospital. His eyes shifted around as the picture became clearer. Nobody was around him, as he would have hoped.
The first thought on his mind was: this medical treatment is going to cost a shit-load of money.
After realizing this, he jumped out of bed. Without hesitation, he grabbed the television set located in his room, and attempted to dive through the window of his hospital room.
His first attempt was unsuccessful. The glass didn't give, and he ended up bouncing off the sturdy pane and landing on already beaten ass, breaking the television in a loud thud. The end.
O. Henry's Comments
"I'm not exactly understanding this one. I'm not from this time era either, so I can't relate. But I did pick this one because I found it to be retro, and I like retro. But I just can't get over what the hell a television is."
Applesauce is the most recent short-story in a series of short-stories about food, written by multi-talented author Michael Moore. The series, which started out as a private collection of everyday thoughts that Moore had during his career as a political humorist, director, and big fat fatty McFatass, has become larger than Michael himself since their initial publication in early 2004. To date, there are 956 total in the series.
Throughout the history of mankind, there have been an almost infinite amount of decisions, some important, others unimportant. However, actions, and decisions that led to those actions, have an effect, no matter how big or small they may be. All decisions play an inerasable factor in the lives of those it effects.
One particular event happened to take place on November 23rd, 2006. The location? 1337 Corpuscle St. in Henderson, Nevada, USA. The setting? A casual Thanksgiving dinner at the Donner family residence. The time? We don't know.
What we do know however, is what is going to happen. You don't. That's why you're reading. As a prerequisite, we will tell you that the lesson of this story is the significance of one small event. As uneventful as this event is, it, and many other events like it, play their roles in everyday life, guiding or misguiding, leading or misleading.
Jeffrey Donner, the youngest of the Donner family, is the protagonist of this story; applesauce is the antagonist. All other members of the family will not be mentioned because we weren't clever enough to come up with the rest of their names.
During the Donner family's eating rituals, Jeffrey's eyes caught the presence of a jar of applesauce on the table. Unfortunately, before he could reach for it, his unnamed sister grabbed the applesauce and proceeded to put some on her plate. She then passed the jar to her mother, who did the same. The mother then passed the applesauce to the father, who also put some applesauce on his own plate. Rather than passing the jar to Jeffrey, he then placed the jar on the table.
In an attempt to grab the jar of applesauce from off the table, Jeffrey's elbow fortuitously tapped the side of a glass of water, which did not plummet over, but is noteworthy. From there, Jeffrey carefully grasped the spoon which was so carefully sitting in the jar of applesauce, not sinking nor floating in the thick and creamy mixture that was both apple and sauce.
From here, he scooped some applesauce onto the silver-coloured spoon, lifted it out of the jar, brought it to his plate with ease, and let the applesauce descend onto his plate, adjacent to his turkey and mashed potatoes. He then repeated this act thrice before licking the spoon clean of applesauce and placing it back in the jar.
It would be accurate to state the Jeffrey Donner enjoyed applesauce; it would not be accurate to state that Jeffrey enjoys applesauce, because Jeffrey was killed the next day by a drunk driver. Support your local anti-drunk driving foundation. Help prevent drunk driving, and remember: you drink, you drive, you lose.
O. Henry's Comments
"I chose this one as the absolute best because I can relate. I had a similar incident. I still don't understand what "drunk driving" is, but the name "Michael Moore" sounds familiar to me. On a side note, there are stories in everything. I've got some of my best yarns from park benches, lampposts, and newspaper stands."